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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Gifts and Exchanges - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Gifts and Exchanges - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Gifts and Exchanges - Part 2

It's an honor to be with you again. Our title today is "Gifts and Exchanges". We're gonna complete that study, but it's the beginning of the year, and I want to be sure that I've given you a specific invitation. Let's not do this year randomly, let's not do it by accident or happenstance, let's take 2022 on purpose. Let's be sure that we've begun with our Bible reading. Let's be sure that we have prayer invested in every day. Let's invite God into the midst of our homes, our professional lives, our dreams, our ambitions. If there's anything that needs to be cleaned up from the past, it's a great time of year to do that. We want to offer this year to the Lord. We're going to need his help. We're walking through a time of turbulence, and unrest, and uncertainty, and those are gonna increase before we get to a more stable place. God hasn't abandoned us, he's walking with us, so we're not gonna respond in fear, or anxiety, or uncertainty, we're gonna invest in his word, his people, and his purposes, and trust that God will direct us to a place that will bring his very best to us. Give him your dreams, and he'll give you something better. I trust him. He's watching over your life. Grab your Bible and a notepad, most of all, open your heart.

First Corinthians 3, this is Paul talking to the church in Corinth, and he said, "I planted the seed and Apollos watered it". They're having a church fight, imagine that. It's just hard to imagine disagreement in a church, isn't it? We can't get out of the parking lot without saluting one another. That's why you come on Saturday night. It's dark, you got a chance. Sunday morning, we're just sinning all over campus. There's a fight in the church at Corinth, and one of them says, "I follow Paul," and another says, "Well, I follow Peter". Another one says, "Well, I follow Apollos". So, Paul writes to the church and he says, "I planted the seed and Apollos watered it, but God made it grow". Get over yourselves. "So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, because he makes it grow".

Now, he didn't say to stop planting, and he didn't say to stop watering, and he didn't say to stop sowing seeds and working in the harvest fields, but he's saying get over yourselves. God's the one who brings the growth. But God, he's the difference maker. He's the part of the equation that they don't account for. The Assyrians didn't account for him and they ran home. The King of Babylon didn't account for him and God slipped a fourth man into that fiery furnace. When they condemned Daniel into the lion's den, they forgot his boss, and the lions weren't hungry. When they stretched Jesus out on that Roman cross and tortured him to death, they didn't allow for the Creator of heaven and earth breathing life into that body in that tomb.

Time and time again through the history of the church, they have not accounted for our boss, but God makes up the difference. It doesn't mean we don't go through things, or faced challenges, or have to endure. We're told we'll have to be overcomers, that perseverance is required. It's a component of the faith. That we'll have to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus, but God will make up the difference. There's been a gift given. A gift has been given. Look in Galatians 4 and verse 4. "When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons".

God sent his Son. He wasn't compelled to do so, he didn't have to do so, we couldn't earn it, we didn't deserve it. He sent his Son to buy us out of being enslaved to godlessness and an eternity apart from God, that we might be considered a part of the family of heaven. It's a gift. It's the most incredible gift you'll ever receive. If you're heartbroken because you don't think you're gonna receive the gift you want, or you can't purchase the gift you would like to give, spend more time thinking about Jesus. Apart from him, we would have no hope. We would be slaves to fear and all sorts of destructive things.

Look at Ephesians 1:7. "In him," in Christ, "We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace". It's not just what God did for us in sending his Son, it was what Jesus did for us in being willing to walk through the cross to submit himself. He didn't have to do that. Remember when they arrested him, and Peter was ready to fight? And Jesus said, "Put your sword away. Don't you know if we wanted to have a little fun, I could call legions of angels? They'd be picking up Roman carcasses for weeks. But I have to do this," he said. I have to do this. When they lied about him at the trial before the high priest, he didn't defend himself. Don't you know he knew the truth about him?

Remember the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery in the Gospel of John? They bring her to Jesus, they're trying to trap him. They don't care about the woman. Last time I checked, adultery requires more than the woman. But they brought the woman to Jesus, and they said, "The law says she should be executed, what do you say"? And all John records is that Jesus knelt down and began to write in the dust, doesn't say what he wrote. The best explanation I ever heard is he began, it says that the crowd dispersed when they saw what he was writing, from the oldest to the youngest, the oldest first. I heard somebody say that Jesus began to write the private sins of the crowd. I'm good, I'm good.

When he was before the high priest and they were accusing him falsely, I promise you he was capable of defending himself. When they took him before Pilate, I assure you he had the power to have walked out of that office. He went to the cross for you and me, so that we could have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, the gift he gave us, we can approach the throne of grace and find mercy to help us in our time of need. Yes, we're walking through a turbulent season. Yes, we were walking through a time when all of the things around us that have been stable, and secure, and promised us the future are being shaken, and some of them are beginning to crumble. Outcomes are unclear. It isn't certain yet.

We're bankrupt, we are hundreds of trillions of dollars in debt, and we're stamping our feet like petulant children, demanding more. The future is not secured by our steadfastness or the robustness of our well being, our future will only be secured by God. But God loves us, and he has provided for us, and he will lead us through. The gift given in Hebrews chapter 1 says, "In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, he's spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things and through whom he made the universe".

The one that's watching over us, the one that went to the cross, made the place. And the revelation that Jesus brought wasn't just a revelation about how to keep the rules better, he said in the past God's spoken to us in many ways. He used a donkey, he's use signs and wonders, he's used the prophets, but in these last days, he sent his Son. What's the one revelation his Son could give that no one else could? He can help us understand God is Father. God is Father. "The Son is the radiance of God's glory, the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful Word. And after he'd provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven". His work was completed.

There's been a gift given to us. Don't take your eyes off of it. Don't give your heart to something else. We have a choice. God, thank you for what you've done for us. The incidence of discouragement, and depression, and heaviness is higher in this season of year than any other time in the year, and I'm quite confident that with the virus and all the challenges that brings, that it's worse than it typically is, and it's not an easy thing. I mean, we can laugh a bit, but I don't really want to make light of it, it's real. There's a battle within us. There's a battle for us, and it requires some self-discipline on our part.

You cannot allow yourself the emotional luxury of giving vent to everything you feel. You may not feel like celebrating. You may not like the circumstances. You may have liked the world better 24 months ago. There may be other reasons you're challenge today, but the truth is, God has given us a gift, and I choose to think about that. I will read those birth stories in Matthew and Luke over and over, and over again. I'll begin to quietly say to the Lord, "God, I thank you that you care about me. I'll do my best not to give my attention to those who are choosing ungodliness".

When the ungodly choose ungodliness, it's not that big a deal, because it's not a change of course for them. The real wounds are when there are people that you have walked with, and journeyed with, and done life with, and you see them struggle. It happens to all of us. Because there have been times and seasons in our life when we were the ones struggling and we were causing grief in the hearts of others.

You have to, with a determination, even if your heart is broken, say, "God, I love you. God, I believe you're just. I believe you're faithful. I don't like my circumstances, but I love you. I thank you for your kindness to me, that my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. And if you want me to sit in the midst of this circumstance until I hear the trumpet, I will worship you". Don't allow the enemy to give you a burden that God didn't. God may have led you through a shadowed valley, because there are times and places when he does that with us, but it doesn't mean he's withdrawn from you. He's our strength. He's our redeemer. He has given us a gift, and his name is Jesus.

And to exchange means you trade something for something else, but God has given us gifts. There's a verse in 2 Peter that I think is noteworthy. We're reading through the prophets right now if you're doing the Bible reading with us, all those books at the end of the Old Testament that are hard to find. Aren't you glad we're just doin' it page after page? In 2 Peter chapter 1 Peter is near the end of his life. His strength has faded, his hair is gray. He says, "We didn't follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We were eyewitnesses of his majesty". I love that sentence. I didn't tell you somethin' I learned in school, he said I was an eyewitness. I about drowned in Galilee that night.

"For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, 'This is my son whom I love, and with him I'm well pleased.'" I was there when he was baptized. "We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain". We were there for the transfiguration. We saw Moses and Elijah. "We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you'll do well to pay attention to it". I just didn't want to talk to you about the gift of Jesus without reminding you what Peter said. Peter knew the boss, and he said don't forget the prophets. In fact, he said you better pay attention to them.

When you're reading through those little books, when I read them these days, it feels like they're speaking to our current events. People will say to me from time to time, "I'm not sure we should talk about current events". I say, "Well, if you're not gonna talk about God and current events, you're gonna have to get rid of your Bible," because that's all the prophets talked about. That's what Jesus talked about. It's what the letters in the New Testament talk about. And then there's this notion of Jesus as our friend.

Acts chapter 13 is maybe my favorite statement about King David in the whole Bible and it's in the New Testament. It says, "After removing Saul, he made David king. And he testified concerning him, 'I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He'll do everything I want him to do.'" He'll do everything I want him to do. I don't know what you're striving to become, or accumulate, or achieve, or what recognition you would like, but I would humbly submit to you there is no better statement that can be made of you than if the Creator of heaven and earth said you would do whatever he wanted you to do. He'll just do whatever I wanted him to do.

What are you afraid of, he's going to take something from you? What do you have he needs? You think he's tryin' to get his hand on your stuff? You think he wants your favorite recipe for figgie pudding? What exactly is it? I've lived what that. I thought, "Oh, God, I couldn't serve you, I'd have to give too much up". Exactly, and I believe that to the core of my being, so I understand that struggle. He'll do anything, everything I want him to do. In Job chapter 1, Job's a tough book. Not an easy story. But the beginning of the book, it says, "The Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered my servant Job?'" Have you looked at Job? That's my boy. Don't you want God to talk about you that way?

You know, we struggle so much to own the Lord, own our faith when we're outside of church. Are we willing to be Christian at work? Are we willing to be Christian when with our friends? Are we willing to be Christian when we were at the ball fields or when we're... Don't you want God and say that's my kid right there? That one over there, that one. Have you seen my servant Job? All of sudden, I'm thinking maybe I'm going to stand up for the Lord a little more straight.

In Numbers 12 it says, "Listen to my words. 'When a prophet of the Lord is among you,'" there's a rebellion amongst God's people. They were complaining long before Corinth. "I reveal myself to him in visions and I speak to him in dreams, but this is not true of my servant Moses. He's faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles. He sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses"? Boom, God comes down to talk to his covenant people, the ones that he got out of the brick pits of Egypt, and he said listen, I've talked to you people in a lot of ways, pillars of cloud and pillars of fire, and we had a few plagues tossed in there, but I talked to Moses face to face. Why were you not afraid to mess with him?

Next time you're suffering from injustice, just quietly run that tape over in your head. Oh, if you knew my boss, you'd back up. Don't make him come for you. Do not make him come for you, it won't go well. We're children of the King. We don't have to be angry. We don't have to be vindictive. We don't have to be filled with hate, or panic, or fear. God is watching over us. Something better is ahead of us. We'll walk through some difficult places and some shadowed seasons, and it's not all easy, but we are friends with the King. Wouldn't you like to be?

Revelation chapter 1, I love this verse. This is the introduction to that book that's so intimidating to many. It says, "The revelation of Jesus Christ," that's the theme of the book, it's a revelation of Jesus. You know he came in Bethlehem, you know the story. Well, Revelation tells us what it's gonna be like when he comes the next time, and he's coming for you and me. It's a rescue mission, he's coming. Don't be afraid of Revelation, it's a revelation of Jesus Christ, "Which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place".

Remember in Acts chapter 1 when the disciples are asking about when the kingdom's gonna be restored to Israel? And Jesus said, "It's not for you to know the times or the dates that the Father has set". It's none of your business, that's God's business. Well, now at the beginning of Revelation, it says it's a revelation that God has given to Jesus to show his servants what must soon take place, and Jesus made it known how? By sending his angel to his servant, John. What if John had said, "Well, do I have to go to church today? The Titans are on, it's a beautiful day. It'd be a great day to be at the lake". Just a few verses down from that it says, "On the Lord's day I was in the Spirit".

God said I've got a message for when you're goin' back to get your friends, and Jesus said I know who to send the angel to, John's still there. Folks, let's decide to be his friend. I'm not interested in being religious. I'm not particularly interested in the rules. I understand God has drawn some boundaries, and I wanna honor those, and respect him, and abide by them. But more than any of that, I want to live as if he were my friend, not my buddy. I have people that I would consider friends, and we don't hang out, or we don't interact with great frequency, but there's a trust between us, a confidence between us. I want to be God's friend. I want him to be able to say of you or me what he said of David.

You'll do whatever he asks you to. I want to be said of us what we just read. That's such a marvelous idea to me. It intrigues me. I have a message that needs to be delivered, and I have a friend that will be willing to say it. We gotta stop pointing at our baptism picture and saying there's no business left for me to do with God. I'm happy to celebrate the day when your new birth took place. I don't care if you have an annual birthday and you've got a hundred candles on the cake. I'm happy for that, take a picture. But the real question is how have you gotten to know the Lord this week?

And it's not really about learning how to spell Isaiah's middle name, it's how have we given expression to the truth that we know? Because we live in a world that desperately needs to hear the truth of God. We're in the midst of a generation that has exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and they are worshiping created things, and they've been able to do it because the church has been so weak, and so distracted, and so compromised that the truth was dim. Not the fault of the pagan, the ineffectiveness of God's people. But God is awakening us. God is awakening us.

I brought you a prayer. I'm gonna ask you to stand and we're gonna read it together. It's worth praying again, so maybe you'll take it with you. Take it like medicine this week, morning, noon, and evening, every two hours. Rinse and repeat, whichever metaphor works, you ready? Use your voice. Your voice has spiritual authority:

Heavenly Father, you are our Creator and the sustainer of all things. Deliver us from evil. Keep us free from deception and allow your truth to grow within us. May your Spirit give us a revelation of Jesus that will break the yoke of bondage over our lives. Strengthen us within, that we might stand in your authority. Thank you for redeeming our lives and preparing a future for us. Teach us to walk uprightly before you, that we might be considered faithful servants, obedient friends of the King. In Jesus's name, amen.

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